21 August 2014


'Absolute attention is prayer.'

Over lunch I was reading Alan Bradley's 'A red herring without mustard' and the main character, Flavia, said something similar:
Thinking and prayer are much the same thing… Prayer goes up and thought comes down—or so it seems. As far as I can tell, that’s the only difference.
My own thoughts switched between the food, the book, and the window. It was a nice meal of chicken roulade I was having while outside the skies were drab for two o’clock. It didn't take long before rain fell.

Back to the book, now dessert. A few bites and pages after, my head turned again to the window. The rain stopped, but I squinted at the grounds, checking for traces of water.

There appeared to be none and before I could even spot a mirage, my view gradually shone yellow.

It was the first time nature made me smile the way a human being does—slowly, unexpectedly.

It was the first time I caught myself smiling.

Update (September 2, 2014):

I came across Phillip Lopate's Against Joie de Vivre wherein he also remarked on the relationship between attention and prayer and living in the moment. He wrote:
The argument of both the hedonist and the guru is that if we were but to open ourselves to the richness of the moment, to concentrate on the feast before us, we would be filled with bliss. I have lived in the present from time to time, and I can tell you that it is much over-rated.
. . . .
The present has a way of intruding whether you like it or not; why should I go out of my way to meet it? Let it splash on me from time to time, like a car going through a puddle, and I, on the sidewalk of my solitude, will salute it grimly like any other modern inconvenience.
. . . .
Even for survival, it's not necessary to focus one's full attention on the present. The instincts of a pedestrian crossing the street in a reverie will usually suffice. Alertness is alright as long as it is not treated as a promissory note on happiness. Anyone who recommends attention to the moment as a prescription for grateful wonder is only telling half the truth. To be happy one must pay attention, but to be unhappy one must also have paid attention.

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